Synaesthetics

I’ve started working through selections from Synthetic Aesthetics, a 2014 edited volume (edited by Ginsberg, Calvert, Schyfter, Elfick, and Endy) that is the product of a collaboration between social and natural scientists and designers, run by Stanford and Edinburgh Universities. As the title implies, the project focuses on the overlap of synthetic biology (also called “synbio”) and…

First principles

I picked up a textbook about fermentation, called Principles of Fermentation Technology (Stanbury and Whitaker 1984). The book has a Third Edition out now, but that was a little too rich for my blood, so I picked up a copy of the first edition. I’d love to compare the language of this book to the language of…

Beer’s illustrious past, illustrated

I recently picked up a copy of The Comic Book Story of Beer (Amazon link) by Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith (and illustrated by Aaron McConnell). It provides an illustrated history of beer, complete with the beer-as-driver-for-civilization narrative that I’ve discussed at least a little bit before (a story that I think I am parodying somewhat by…

Brewing, scienced up

There’s a fairly new brewery in Chicago that takes the art-meets-science approach that a lot of other brewers talk about in a new direction, really “sciencing up” the art of brewing. Fittingly, they’re called Empirical Brewery (this is an article about them on a new beer website called October, which I’ll have to write about soon),…

Back in the swing

I haven’t written anything for a few weeks, but I’m going to try to get back into the habit here. Last month, I went to a conference at the University of Kentucky (DOPE: Dimensions of Political Ecology) and presented part of this research as a paper called “Fermenting (In)distinction” on a panel on aesthetics. The…

Booze cultures

This article in this month’s National Geographic tells a story that seems increasingly common: fermentation, specifically alcoholic fermentation, provided one of the great impetuses for civilization (see also: Discovery‘s How Beer Saved the World [2011]). This definition of that loaded term, civilization, typically revolves around the adoption of agriculture, and with it, less nomadic lifestyles and more specialization. This…

The struggle, so far

Because this site is designed, in large part, to document the research process in a transparent fashion, I thought I would bring it out of its dormant state with an update about the early stages of the project and a self-indulgent reflection on some of the difficulties I have faced so far. First, I have…

Brewster science

This piece, published in BeerAdvocate last month, describes the trajectory of White Labs’ senior researcher Karen Fortmann.  It argues that efforts to address the STEM gender gap also have the effect of getting more women into jobs in the beer industry (even though programs focusing specifically on brewing science remain mostly populated by men). Interestingly, Fortmann both characterizes working…